Meet the Team

Aaron Esler

Aaron has been working in the helping profession and supporting individuals and their families living with mental health challenges and addiction for over 18 years. He has lived experience regarding his own mental health and addiction issues that spanned over 20 years. As a result, he brings valuable insight into a variety of treatment approaches regarding addictions, anxiety, depression, trauma, and other concurrent disorders. Along with his completion of a master’s in counseling psychology, he also engages in professional development courses and ongoing clinical supervision. Aaron believes that each individual seeking support has the innate capacity to heal from within. Connection, culture, and community are keys to cultivating wellness. Helping clients find creative and effective ways to reconnect to self and community is a primary aspect of Aaron’s counselling process.

Mike Mai

Mike Mai has been working with people who live with addiction for over 15 years. He leads groups in relapse prevention, meditation, self-awareness, and uses a client-centered approach and cognitive behavioural therapy. Through safe dialogue, empathy, and compassion he helps people break through deniability and supports them in making change. Mike provides intake/orientation support, one on one counselling, group facilitation, and outreach programs in the community. In tandem with other community agencies, Mike supports his clients to personalize and streamline their wellness plans.

Shannon Gugyel

Shannon is new to the Okanagan but has decades of experience as a people helper. From educational psychology to family systems therapy, Shannon has worked in various settings like non-profit organizations, post-secondary institutions, government group homes, churches, and with first responders as a volunteer chaplain. Her passion is to walk alongside those who live with substance and/or alcohol use, as well as those affected by a loved one’s substance and/or alcohol use, navigating a healing path of recovery.

As a practitioner, Shannon prioritizes ethical standards, client-focused supports, and communication development using a systemic model. Cultural security is of the utmost importance, and honouring a client’s highest need for health and safety motivates the clinical care offered by Heartways counsellors.